We were in the middle of the polar vortex, the Beast from the East had well and truly grasped the UK with its claws. I had two events booked in to complete this weekend. One was cancelled by the organisers and this event had given out warnings of the conditions and had allowed participants to defer to the summer race if they wanted. About 75% of people deferred including my whole team. Sadly I was not able to defer due to time restraints; trying to fit in 30 endurance events in one year, some multiple days and still try to work is hard.
So off I toddled all wrapped up to arrive to a handful of cars in a desolate old landfill site turned into a carpark in minus 6. Right, how hard can this be, I am wrapped up, I will get a cuppa, do two laps and 14km with 400 obstacles and then it will be done, I can go home and get in the bath.
How wrong could I be. This event was by far one of the hardest things I have ever done. My family and friends will laugh at that sentence as I have a tendency to spurt that out at the finish line of every event I have ever taken part in. But seriously this was super tough.
The start was in waves which gave me a chance to see a few sorry looking faces finish their first lap and one group who were doing the whole thing in maninkis! When I saw these people I knew it would be tough, not one smile between then and just a look off shock and confusion; this look I would take on within the next 10 minutes.
The start seemed easy enough with some hay bails to jump over and some muddy fields to negotiate. After the first blissful 500metres I then had to jump into a lake of water up to my waist whilst battling past the icebergs. The ice on top of the lakes and ponds was up to 6inches thick, even ignoring the cold trying to run thought these blocks of ice was excruciating.
About 10 more of these ponds followed, one after another, some deeper than others and some had obstacles in. By this point I could no longer feel my hands and my feet hand turned in stumps of flesh I was dragging around. This was probably 10 minutes from crossing the start line.
How was I ever going to be able to do this. The small amount of spectators kept offering me jelly babies but by stomach was trying to rebel everything that I had eaten in the morning due to being so cold.
If it was not already bad enough, the tunnels started, the tunnels full of icey water. I am not great in confined spaces or with heights. These things I can normally deal with when it is one thing at a time, but when I could no longer feel my hands and feet I just lost it. The tears followed with the poor marshals not being able to deal with me. I have never been in this mess before and I felt a fool for even trying to do this whole thing.
At this point I had to really remind myself why I had decided to do 30 endurance events this year. It was not meant to be easy. I then took some deep breathes and tackled one obstacle at a time (still crying), most obstacles I managed to complete but ones that were really high off the ground I just could not do. I accept that now but at the time felt pathetic.
The water obstacles turned into dryer land based ones; my hands and feet started to warm and I relaxed into the course. This felt much more in my comfort zone and I started to smile and "enjoy" myself. Here I was able to speak to some of the other competitors and that spurred me on quicker, we were all in the same boat and everyone was trying to push themselves through the cold.
At this point I could hear the cheering from the finish line but knew there were some extreme obstacles to do before I got there. Just.One.Obstacle.At.A.Time.
"Go under' "Go under" Go under", this was the chorus from the spectators at the finish line; the last obstacle meant you could either fully submerge or go over the top. I went for it and even though terrible made me feel like I had tackled something big. Lap one complete...
I am now proud of what I achieved in the Nuts Run and over came a lot of fears, I don't think I will ever be a winter obstacle course runner. I do think it would have been better with a big group and it would have even been fun in the summer. Thank you to everyone that hugged me when I was crying and tried to help me trough the tunnels or when I was stuck up on high slippery ropes.
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